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World Taekwondo and International Taekwondo Federation

After over a decade of talks and many setbacks now there are signs suggesting that the two main rivals of the past – World Taekwondo from South Korea and International Taekwondo Federation from North Korea – are getting closer to finding common grounds for a probable unification.

Discussions, maybe better put negotiations between the two organizations have been going on since early 2006 with the now retired President of Asian Taekwondo Union, Dr. Lee Dai Soon leading the way.

Despite knowing what a difficult task was at hand the old politician and staunch believer of peace and harmony hoped to find mutual grounds that would interest both sides.

So naturally in 2006 negotiations between WT and ITF started with closer reflection on technical issues which seemed to be one of the more important issues needed to be worked on.

Needless to say that since its induction into the Olympics in 88, WT found it necessary to change its image from a Martial Art to a Sport to stay as a part of the summer Olympic Games but the change was confronted by a discontentment by some of the old Taekwondo Grand Masters in Korea.

The changes took on a faster pace with the coming of the new President, Dr. Chungwon Choue, in 2006.

Introduction of Personal Scoring System (PSS) by Dr. Choue was one of the most important steps trying to break the Korean monopoly on taekwondo and giving a “Fairer” image of the sport.

In the meantime while  “World Taekwondo” had gone through an almost complete “face lift” trying to improve its image and survive as an Olympic sport, it seemed that International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) had stayed loyal to the old style of taekwondo in trying to keep its image as a Martial Art.

Even though the idea of unifying WT and ITF has long been thought of by the President of the World Taekwondo, but in reality the gaps between the two organizations - sometimes dictated by the political events - appeared too big to overcome and it looked as if a compromise with the “boys from the north” would need a great deal of effort.

Everything was at a stalemate until in an unexpected turn of events; North Korea showed an enthusiastic inclination to join the international community and that opened the door for closer talks with ITF.

The events that followed led to a statement by WT and ITF on March 27th giving news of a joint taekwondo demonstration to mark the 25th anniversary of taekwondo’s inclusion in the Olympic program.

The announcement stated that World Taekwondo (WT) and the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) will jointly organize taekwondo demonstration performances three times in April in Vienna, the Olympic capital of Lausanne and Geneva as the two federations showcase the influence of sport to unite humanity.

The events were proposed by WT President Chungwon Choue and agreed on by ITF President Yong Son Ri at the end of 2018 and will be held under the theme of “One World, One Taekwondo.”

“I am delighted that the ITF has agreed to join WT in celebrating the power of taekwondo to unite people around the world. The three, high-profile events in Switzerland and Austria will coincide with the anniversary of taekwondo’s inclusion on the Olympic program, which has helped spread the message of taekwondo around the world,” said WT President Chungwon Choue.

In November of 2018 President Choue proposed to IOC President, Thomas Bach, to hold these events to commemorate the “Silver” anniversary of taekwondo’s inclusion in the summer Olympic Games and subsequently Mr. Bach agreed to support this proposal.

The first demonstration will be in Vienna on April 5th, where ITF’s headquarters are located at and then they will move to Lausanne where President Bach has agreed to hold the taekwondo demonstration at the Olympic museum on April 11th in a joint effort with the WT.

IOC President will attend the Lausanne event along with ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as a show of support.

The two federations will complete their trio of joint-demonstrations with an event in Geneva at the United Nations offices on 12 April.